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Personal property is all tangible property other than real estate property, including, but not limited to: business equipment, office machinery, inventory, furniture, and fixtures not located at the owner's domicile on January 1.
In general, all tangible personal property situated in Massachusetts and all tangible personal property owned by Massachusetts domiciliaries is taxable unless expressly exempt. There are many exemptions, which are usually based on:
Individuals, partnerships, associations, trusts, limited liability companies, Massachusetts business and out of state corporations, limited liability companies filing federally as corporations, mutual insurance holding companies, Massachusetts and out of state manufacturing corporations and all other Massachusetts corporations subject to taxation under G.L. Chapter 63.
State Tax Form 2 is a form listing all personal property assets of an organization for the current fiscal year. Filing a form of list is required by statute. In the event that a taxpayer does not file a list, the assessor will ascertain, as best they can, the personal estate belonging to the taxpayer and will estimate its value. The form of list is not open to public inspection.
This form must be filed each year by individuals, partnerships, associations, trusts and corporations that own or hold taxable personal property on January 1, except telephone and telegraph companies and owners of pipelines that are required to file a personal property return with the Mass. Department of Revenue. Literary, temperance, benevolent, charitable, or scientific organizations that may be entitled to an exemption must file State Tax Form 3 ABC listing all property they own or hold for those purposes on January 1.
Forms of return must be filed by March 1 with the Board of Assessors in the city or town where the personal property is situated on January 1.
The information in the Form of List is used by the Board of Assessors to determine the taxable or exempt status of your personal property and, if taxable, its fair market value. Forms of List or not available to the public for inspection under the public records law.
Anyone who feels that their personal property is overvalued or exempt may file an abatement. You must file an abatement form at the Assessors Office between January 1 and February 1 of the current tax year. Only the current tax year is eligible for abatement or exemption.
Tools employed by a plumber, carpenter, auto mechanic and other trade professionals are exempt from the personal property tax. In legal terms, this covers "tools of trade" of a "mechanic" (e.g. tools that can fit in a box). Boats, fishing gear and nets - up to $10,000 in value - owned and used in a commercial fishing business are exempt. Computers are also subject to personal property tax, but in cases where they are utilized by a corporation for internal purposes only, computers are not subject to taxation. Tangible personal property subject to some other local tax is also exempt from the personal property tax. Additionally, intangible property (such as stocks, bonds, mortgages) is exempt from the personal property tax.